In this week's latest must-win situation, Eagles will focus on finishing games

Posted: October 08, 2011

This week, it's about finishing.

It's about the Eagles defense finding a way to play well for four quarters, not two or three.

It's about finishing drives for an offense that has moved the ball well - ranking fourth in the NFL in total yardage - only to come undone near the end zone with dubious play calling, turnovers, and penalties.

The Eagles, at 1-3, could be living a 4-0 dream if they had been able to finish these past three weeks. But they haven't, and 49ers running back Frank Gore called out the Birds on Friday.

"I think playing that second half and the way we came out, the Eagles didn't want to play no more," Gore said on ESPN2's First Take. As the 49ers rallied from a 20-point deficit on Sunday, he said, "We just kept pounding and kept pounding and making plays and kind of knocked the fight out of them."

For all the bad things written and said about the Eagles the last three weeks, that is damning criticism, particularly coming from an opponent, not the media.

Quarterback Michael Vick disputed Gore's assertion.

"I don't think the team quit. I think we put up the effort for all four quarters," Vick said. "He can say that, and we can't dwell on last week."

Instead, Vick said, the team was focused on this week's game in Buffalo.

"Every game from this point out is a do-or-die game, so that's our approach, and everybody has to have that mind-set," Vick said. "If you get too far ahead of yourself then things have a tendency to not even work."

Added linebacker Moise Fokou: "As a team it's a must-have game."

The most likely route to victory, and the first step in recovering from a disappointing start, would seem to run through the Eagles' offense.

The Bills can run the ball, ranking fifth in the NFL in rushing yards behind running back Fred Jackson, and are scoring 33.3 points per game, fourth in the league.

That's bad news for a Philadelphia defense that ranks 30th against the run and is allowing 25.3 points each game. Add in the absences of defensive end Trent Cole and defensive tackle Antonio Dixon, and a defensive revival this week looks unlikely.

The offense, on the other hand, is only a few mistakes away from being back to its explosive self. The Eagles can move the ball. If they can stop turning it over, convert in short yardage and remember that LeSean McCoy is possibly their most dangerous weapon, the Eagles can still score points, enough to win a shootout.

The Eagles rank first in the NFL in getting into the red zone, but penalties, turnovers (the Eagles have four in the red zone), and a failure to convert on third and short have prevented them from piling up points, said offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.

Correct those problems, Mornhinweg said, and the Eagles can be "a great offensive football team."

If so, maybe their weapons can overcome the team's defensive problems.

Extra points. Defensive end Juqua Parker has a chance to play Sunday after seeming unlikely to be ready earlier in the week. Fellow end Darryl Tapp is almost certain to start opposite Jason Babin after practicing in full Friday. Parker, recovering from a high-ankle sprain in Week 2, is listed as questionable but said he made a big improvement this week. . . . Defensive tackle Derek Landri, signed this week, is fit enough to play, though coach Andy Reid said he had not yet decided if he will dress for the game. . . . Forty-Niners tackle Anthony Davis was fined $25,000 for leg-whipping Babin last week. Babin, fined $15,000 for a hit on quarterback Alex Smith, had complained about the 49ers' blocking tactics. . . . Running back LeSean McCoy fired superagent Drew Rosenhaus earlier this week, filing termination papers with the players association, he confirmed Friday. McCoy, however, rescinded the request a day later. McCoy did not say why he made either decision.

Contact staff writer Jonathan Tamari at 215-854-5214,, or @JonathanTamari on Twitter.

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